ABC News’ Dan Lieberman reports: When “Primetime Nightline’s” special “A Model Life” aired last night on ABC, we asked viewers to send us stories and experiences from their model lives. Working models, former and current, wrote in with tales from their photo shoots, casting calls and videos. Here are some of their stories. More to come…
YOLANDA WEBB, former model
I started my modeling career when I was 18 as a young African-American girl. Taken advantage of by “modeling agencies” that weren’t really agencies as much as they were modeling rip-offs. Girls spend an enormous amount of money at so called schools who don’t do anything for them once they “graduate.” My savings grace was a beautiful, very well known model named Brenda. At age 24 and ready to give up, Brenda recognized my talent and my beauty. Thus I began a trail of work that led me to own my own fashion and beauty company now at age 52. Yes, I remember the horror stories (my photographer trying to get some really lewd pictures of me – I was already married and had two children but after the photo shoot for the client he wanted to know if I would be interested in earning some extra money)…I wasn’t.
STACY WILKES, former model with stories to tell
I would do a part two on this episode because I feel like a lot of things were left out. I was discovered at age 14 at a free concert at the Kentucky State Fair (Warrant). I got to travel the world and modeled well into my 20′s. Which is rare in this business. At age 16 I was in the Elite Look of the Year which is an international contest broadcast on television. It was judged by Donald Trump, John Casablancas, Gerald Marie, Patrick Demarchelier, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Copperfield, Ines Sastre, Wendy Veldhuis, F. Stone Roberts and Robert Mckeon. Believe me I’ve got some stories to tell!
SHARRON PETERMAN, a ’hobbiest model’
I was sort of a freelance, hobbiest model. I didn’t do national modeling, I worked at a model and talent agency and I did modeling on the side. One shot I am proud of, I dictated the shoot and poses. It was semi nude (still have photos today). I didn’t go through or deal with the horrors that other high profile models did with their agencies and photographers. It was all for fun with me. I was also in several country music videos. Hank Williams Jr, Mark Collie, and John Prine.
RACHEL YOCOM, struggling model
I just got back to America after working in Shanghai for 3 months. Modeling is so hard, and there is so much pressure that i know some models who had complete brake downs because they couldn’t handle all the rejection. While I was there I had a few castings that I felt really uncomfortable at. I just got a vibe at one were I felt like these men are men I shouldn’t be around, and others were castings were they wanted me to dance like a stripper for a camera. I had a great agency and was able to say no. My agency respected the fact that I did not want to shoot swim or nudes and that I would never take on the impression of a hooker. I did have a runway show one time and after words the client called my agency and asked how much it would be for us to have sex with some of the rich buyers. Thankfully my agency said no right away. Even though I was sent to these castings and had people questioning if I would be willing to have sex for money or not, My agency always had my best interest in mind and made sure I felt comfortable even if it meant not doing a swim suite shoot which made them lose 7,000 RMB, but they were very understanding about it.
JOHNETTA ANDERSON, model about to move to New York
I still have yet to “make it” so to speak, I’m signed to a small affliate agency of Wilhelmina and it’s difficult. I’m preparing to move to New York because I have to give it my all in the make it or break it city. As a model of color and being American makes it 10 times harder but I’m willing to give it all I have. I have wanted this my whole life taking the lumps of being the only model of color cast for shows, to shows not having makeup for women of color, always over coming adversity.
BRENDA STRANGE, a disappointed mother
I am disappointed in your one sided report about a model’s life. There are many positive aspects to modeling and you did not mention any of them. I thought Nightline was a reputable news organization. Obviously not, when you do not report the full story. My daughter has been modeling for 2 years and it is NOTHING like what you portrayed in your story. I will spread the word and be suspect of all your stories in the future.
CANDY DOUGLAS, mom with a ‘model’ daughter
My daughter could wear the angel wings and keep going down the runway. On a scale of one to ten, she’s a twenty.